The Rangers once again tried to ride a spectacular effort by Marian Gaborik to victory and once again were unsuccessful as they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second time in three nights 5-2 at MSG. Gaborik, who scored two goals to raise his league leading total to 21, was the only offense for the Blueshirts as the rest of the Rangers looked lost in the offensive zone. Henrik Lundqvist had another poor performance, giving up two soft goals to Mike Rupp and was no help to a struggling defensive corps that gave up way too many opportunities on this night. The only standouts in this game for the home team were the aforementioned Gaborik, the ever improving Artem Anisimov (who had a very strong game on the puck) and Dan Girardi, who was by far the team’s best defender and had multiple big plays in his own zone.
The biggest issue for this team so far during these recent struggles is not it’s lack of scoring past it’s top line but the disappointing play of an underperforming unrecognizable Henrik Lundqvist in goal. It seems as if Henrik has not fixed his problems of last postseason and continues to go down way too early giving the opponents the top corner on a consistent basis. Tonight, he was beat again up high by Mike Rupp (an enforcer with very little offensive skill) on a shot Henrik would routinely stop in the past. Coach Benoit Allaire has to do something to help Henrik fix this flaw or it won’t matter how many goals the Blueshirts (Gaborik) score, this season will slip away faster than that series with the Caps in last year’s postseason.
Thumbs Up- Gaborik, Gaborik, Gaborik! Sean Avery joined the top line with Gaborik and Vinny Prospal and had another energetic performance. Matt Gilroy was buzzing throughout the first two periods. Donald Brashear (Who?) probably had his best game as a Ranger. P.A. Parenteau continues to be among the hardest workers on this team every night.
Thumbs Down- Michal Roszival followed an o.k. performance on Saturday with a downright horrible one tonight. He is just about done here in New York if he can’t find a way to fix his myriad of problems. He can’t join the offense, he no longer plays a physical game at all and his defensive zone coverage is just plain atrocious. Bobby Sanguinetti is not ready to play major minutes at this level. Has anyone seen Chris Drury, Ryan Callahan or Ales Kotalik lately?
Three Stars- 3- Dan Girardi- Strong game at both ends. Continues to be physical force in his own end even as his teammates continue to shy away from contact on a regular basis.
2- Artem Anisimov- While the goals haven’t come yet for the strong, talented youngster, everything else has. He controls the puck and uses his body to shield off defenders like a veteran. He plays a heads up style and is defensively responsible. He never seems to take a shift off (like fellow impressive youngster Parenteau) and is playing major minutes for this club.
1- Marian Gaborik- Who Else? Another typical night for Gabs. 2 Goals. Takes a beating in front and stands up to any and all comers. This guy is a complete player and right now might be the best player in the NHL this season.
The Rangers next game is Saturday against a very hot Sabres club in Buffalo. Let’s hope they can work on fixing these problems before they travel upstate or they will be in for more of the same butt kickings they have been experiencing as of late.